Retractare: Redemptive-Historical Hermeneutics

It’s fashionable in Reformed circles to chant “already-not yet” and say that Jesus fulfills scripture.  It’s highly dangerous to deny it.   And on a certain level, I agree.  Jesus is the telos of the law.  Well and good.   But when you read these RH-BT (Biblical Theology) guys deal with the Old testament, it’s like they take a crayon and write “Jesus” or “Church” all over the page (HT to Chris Poe for the wonderful illustration).  Maybe that’s true sometimes, but that’s…cheating?

I settle, rather, with old-fashioned Grammatical-Historical (the same kind of hermeneutics with which you read this page, church fathers, papal bulls, etc).  I realize the two aren’t mutually exclusive, but still.

2 comments on “Retractare: Redemptive-Historical Hermeneutics

  1. DCF says:

    I remember reading this back in my FV days:

    Three key anti-GH paragraphs from the article:

    “Grammatical-historical exegesis is only a very limited method, which doesn’t always get us where we need to be, because grammatical-historical interpretation is strictly interested only in what may be derived from original historical human meaning.

    The idea of a singular, methodologically isolatable and static historical meaning that we humans can precisely define is an illusory modernist pipe-dream. Meaning is always dynamic and personal. (By “personal” I mean “involving relationships between persons,” not “individualistic,” and certainly not “subjectivistic.”) But even if one could isolate a static and impersonal meaning to the biblical text, the grammatical-historical method alone would still be inadequate.

    Grammatical-historical method does not, and by its very nature cannot, deal with the special hermeneutical considerations of a divine text. A text written by several individuals from different cultures over the course of several centuries, which is at the same time authored by One who knows where history is going before it gets there, is inherently unique. Grammatical-historical interpretation proceeds on the assumption of the similarity of its text to other texts. The Bible is indeed a text like other texts, but it is also in certain ways sui generis, and thus requires something more.”

    • I admit there are some limitations to the method. But people who deny the GH use the GH to deny the GH. I debated Jnorm on the fathers one time and he effectively conceded that the only way we can know what an ancient document (or person) said is by means of the GH, though he didn’t call it such.

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